“Here be dragons”
They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone, which is little comfort when you’ve reached the end of said zone and feel like beating a hasty retreat back from whence you came.
Any sort of personal or business change that requires exiting your comfort zone and traversing new and unknown territory can be scary to say the least. I’ve done it a few times and it’s never been pleasant or easy. But, the long run alternative of staying stuck where I am has terrified me more than the prospect of the unknown. The more frequently I’ve tested my ability to cope with the unfamiliar, the more adept I’ve become at dealing with it.
That said, I tend to bask in the safe and comfortable glow of my own comfort zone until the pain of not having what I want or making the progress I know I’m capable of gets too much and I make a break for it, dragons be damned.
Take my first (and only) marriage for example. I sat in unhappy familiarity for two years until I simply couldn’t stand it anymore and pulled the plug. Anyone who’s gone through a divorce will tell you that it’s one of the most hideous ordeals you can undergo, but when the thought of staying married was worse than the prospect of exiting said marriage, I made the leap. Short term pain for long term gain as it were.
My experience of professional growth has been similar. It took an episode of burnout for me to catch a wake up and make some serious changes to how I was running my photography business. The trouble was I knew I needed to change how I was doing things, but I had no idea where to start, what to change or how to go about doing it. This is where comfort zones keep us stuck. What’s familiar might be awful, but it’s a level of awful that you know, understand and can predict. Best of all, it’s dragon free.
Having an experienced guide is advantageous when you’re in the process of change. This is where working with a coach is invaluable. They’ll accompany you as you pack your bags (literal or metaphorical) and journey into the unknown.
The only reason I’m not still working 7 days a week and wallowing in the misery of unfulfillment is thanks to my first business coach. She helped me see where I could make changes to my photography business and held my hand as I white knuckled through the rollercoaster of raising my rates, rebranding my business and quite literally changing my life. My own experience of being coached and the difference coaching has made to my life is why I became a coach myself.
Leaving your comfort zone can be a bit like starting a game of Jumanji; you never know what’s going to happen next. However, along with the possibility of utter terror, there’s also the possibility of excitement, adventure and new experiences. Someone pass me the dice!
Today I challenge you to acknowledge where you’re stuck and how you’re avoiding stepping out to explore new and uncharted territory. Then I invite you to take one small step over the safety threshold. This might be as simple as sending an email, making a phone call, posting a blog or booking a plane ticket. Distract the dragons with some tasty treats and step across the line.
*The creature in the photo with me is Ziggy, the closest I’ll ever get to a pet dragon.